National Migration Week 2016 to be Celebrated January 3-9

National Migration Week 2016 will take place January 3-9 with the theme, “A Stranger and You Welcomed Me.” The celebration provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by migrants, including children, refugees, and victims of human trafficking.

The call to welcome the stranger plays an important role in the lives of faithful Christians and has a particularly central place in the Year of Mercy. “People often forget that the Holy Family themselves were refugees fleeing into Egypt,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “Likewise, refugees around the world, all of whom are extremely vulnerable, are fleeing for their lives. As Catholics, we are called to welcome and support these families who also need our help.”nmw-2016-poster

As part of the 2016 National Migration Week celebration, the USCCB established a small grant program that will provide Catholic parishes, schools and other organizations funding to help them better integrate the Church’s teaching on migration into new or existing programs, materials, events and other activities. Grant recipients will be announced during National Migration Week.

The observance of National Migration Week began over 25 years ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them. The week serves as both a time for prayer and action to try and ease the struggles of immigrants, migrants and vulnerable populations coming to the United States.

Dioceses across the country including Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; Jackson, Mississippi; and Metuchen, New Jersey; have planned special events and Masses throughout the week.

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at www.usccb.org/nationalmigrationweek. Posters, prayer cards, and booklets are available through the USCCB publishing service at www.usccbpublishing.org

Christmas Blessings from the North Dakota Catholic Conference

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Washington Misses Opportunity to Protect the Freedom to Serve

A statement by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The bishops of the United States are gravely disappointed that the 2016 omnibus funding bill did not include the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA).  While the omnibus bill certainly addresses other critical issues, the modest reform that ANDA represents — to make federal conscience laws on abortion workable and enforceable — was an urgent legislative priority in these final months of the year.
Many Catholic and other institutions, including those that provide health care and other human services to the poor and vulnerable, have joined in our support of ANDA.  Without ANDA, these caring organizations face legal threats to their very existence, as they lack clear and enforceable protection for their freedom to serve the needy in accord with their deepest moral convictions on respect for human life.  Such threats to conscience also pose a threat to the most marginalized and vulnerable in our society–the poor and the sick, as well as the unborn.
 I am deeply concerned that a foundational principle that has received long-standing, bipartisan support in the past has suddenly become partisan.  No one should be forced by the government to actively participate in what they believe to be the taking of an innocent life. This is not about “access” to abortion. The principle at stake is whether people of faith and others who oppose abortion and abortion coverage should be compelled to participate in them. Federal law has long supported the rights of conscientious objection, and even in recent years, President Obama and many members of Congress have publicly declared their support for these existing laws. ANDA merely sought to give them a more consistent means of enforcement.
Despite this, ANDA was caught in the partisan polarization gripping Washington. To those who supported ANDA, we offer our gratitude and applaud your commitment to maintaining our national consensus in support of conscience protection.  To those who opposed ANDA, we urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to reconsider your position, which stands in opposition to even the modest enforcement of a venerable principle that is rooted in the constitution and has long enjoyed broad, bipartisan support.
We join Pope Francis in “call[ing] for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States,” a cooperation that must be undertaken “with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.”  [Address to Congress, Sept. 24, 2015]  We call upon our elected officials to rise above partisan divisions and to renew their support for this most basic right. ANDA should be enacted as soon as possible. Without it, current federal conscience laws are, now for the first time, being enforced erratically or not at all in places such as California.
The mission of the Church in the public square is to witness to the dignity of every human life and advocate for the freedom to act in accord with one’s moral and religious convictions in defense of those lives, no matter how young or vulnerable. We will continue to reach out to the White House and Congressional leaders untiringly until proper protections are guaranteed.

Get the Facts: The U.S. has a Rigorous Refugee Screening Process

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

Refugee situations are traditionally resolved through three durable solutions: voluntary repatriation whereby refugees flee to nearby countries and when peace comes they voluntarily return home in safety and dignity, local integration whereby the neighboring host country allows refugees to permanently settle as full-fledged members of the host country, and, resettlement whereby refugees are rigorously screened in neighboring host countries and referred to distant resettlement countries. Resettlement is a life-saving solution for a small percentage of refugees worldwide (less than one half of one percent). They are often the most vulnerable refugees. The U.S. has a proud tradition of taking over half of the world’s resettled refugees. These are the stages of the rigorous U.S. resettlement screening process:RIGOROUS SECURITY SCREENING OF REFUGEES RESETTLED TO THE UNITED STATES …

Action Alert: Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death

Take Action!

Contact your U.S. Senators NOW

Background: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would effectively halt all resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States for a protracted indefinite time.

The week after Thanksgiving, the same bill or similar legislation will likely be introduced and voted on in the U.S. Senate.  Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers may also try to use the Omnibus appropriations bill that must be passed by December 11th as a vehicle for  passing the SAFE Act or similar legislation.

On November 17th, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement which said, in part, “I am disturbed…by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”

Moreover, Bishop Elizondo urged that, “Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.”

Your U.S. Senators need to hear from you, your neighbors and fellow parishioners that you oppose H.R. 4038 and other bills that would stop or halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Action: Send the following message to your U.S. Senators:

Message: 

Dear Senator,
Please oppose H.R. 4038 or similar legislation that would unnecessarily halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S.

Where: 

Senator John Hoeven:

Phone: 202-224-2551

Email: http://www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=email-the-senator

Senator Heidi Heitkamp:

Phone: 202-224-2043

Email: https://www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-heidi

When:  Now.

New Column: The Co-Op Pope

Money at the service of life can be managed in the right way by cooperatives, on condition that it is a real cooperative where capital does not have command over men but men over capital. - Pope Francis

Question: What do Pope Francis and North Dakotans have in common? Answer: A fondness for cooperatives.

North Dakotans are familiar with cooperatives. The Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives at North Dakota State University estimates that there exist over 500 cooperatives in the state. We have cooperatives involving agriculture, telecommunications, financing, insurance, electricity, and more. The state has often been called the nation’s leader in the cooperative movement.

Like many legal and economic developments, cooperatives often sprung from necessity. Farmers, for example, sometimes had to join forces to reduce purchasing costs. At other times, producers needed to work together to have sufficient bargaining power when dealing with monopolies like the railroads. Cooperatives have also allowed members to access needed resources for investment.

Cooperatives offer local control, direct ownership, and equitable distribution of the fruits of labor. Interestingly, support for these principles, and cooperatives themselves, are found in Catholic teaching.

Although often mislabeled as a document on climate change, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si is really an exploration of what the Christian faith means for the economy. It is worth noting that cooperatives are praised twice in the document, once in relation to agricultural cooperatives and again concerning energy cooperatives — two segments of the cooperative model with which North Dakotans are familiar.

Pope Francis has repeatedly hailed cooperatives. Speaking to an audience in Rome, the pope said: “Cooperatives should continue to be the motor that raises and develops the weakest part of our communities and civil society.” In Bolivia he spoke of how he has seen how cooperatives “were able to create work where there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy.” He has often spoke about how he developed an enthusiasm for cooperatives when, as a teenager, he heard his father talk about “Christian cooperativism.” Indeed, Paul Hazen of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, has dubbed Francis, the “co-op pope.”

Pope Francis, however, is not unique when it comes to expressing the Catholic preference for cooperative models of ownership and production. Catholic monasteries have operated as cooperatives for centuries. Cooperatives got a significant boost in popularity after Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum in 1891. It was the first “social encyclical” and rejected by unbridled capitalism and state socialism. Cooperatives provided an alternative. As Pope Francis puts it: cooperatives “are the concrete expression of the solidarity and subsidiarity that the social doctrine of the Church has always promoted between the person and the state.” Nearly ever pope since then, especially the last five, has promoted cooperatives as an alternative to systems where all the economic power is held by those who own the capital, rather than the workers, producers, or consumers.

Catholics have been putting the cooperative alternative into practice.The first credit union in the United States was founded by New Hampshire French-speaking Catholics in 1908. The world’s largest network of worker-owned cooperatives was started by a Catholic priest in Spain. Dorothy Day, one of the four “great Americans” mentioned by Pope Francis in his address to Congress, promoted and founded cooperatives in the United States as an alternative to communism and a form of uncaring, detached capitalism. Even today, Catholic bishops, aid organizations, and lay groups promote and create cooperatives around the world.

Several themes run throughout Scripture and the church’s social doctrine that make cooperative models and worker ownership appealing. As already noted, they can be an alternative between collectivism and individualism run amuck. They also represent ways to respect both solidarity and subsidiarity, stewardship of the land, the dignity of labor and workers, respect for private property and the universal destination of goods, and the ecological integrity Pope Francis discusses in Laudato si.

Cooperatives may not work in every situation. Pope Francis warns that cooperatives, like other types of ownership can succumb to the temptation to put profit before people and thus become “false cooperatives.” Nevertheless, our experience with cooperatives might place North Dakotans in a better position to help create what Pope Francis calls a “healing” “economy of honesty.”

Protecting the right of conscientious objection to abortion

physicianThe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking for your help in urging Congress to protect the right of conscientious objection to abortion.
 
Can you imagine if you had spent years training to help the sick as a nurse – only to find that to keep your job, you must take part in the killing of a defenseless five-month-old unborn child? This happened to Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN, who was forced by her employer to participate in a late-term abortion against her deeply held pro-life beliefs. What’s worse, she found she had no right to go to court to keep this from happening to others. Check out this Youtube video to hear from Cathy about the situation.
 
The need for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) has grown more urgent since last year, when the state of California started forcing almost all health plans in the state, including churches, to pay for elective abortions.
 
As we approach the Dec. 11 deadline for Congress to agree on a “must pass” year-end spending bill, we are working to include ANDA as a part of the package. To send a message to your members of Congress, go to www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292.
 
Thanks for your help with this.

Bishops’ Migration Chair: U.S. Should Welcome Syrian Refugees, Work For Peace

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

Nov. 17, 2015

BALTIMORE — Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on Syrian refugees during the Bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 17.

Full text of the statement follows:

Statement on Syrian Refugees and the Attacks in Paris

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the November 13 attacks in Paris, France and to the French people.  I add my voice to all those condemning these attacks and my support to all who are working to ensure such attacks do not occur again—both in France and around the world.

I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.  These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris.  They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.

Moreover, refugees to this country must pass security checks and multiple interviews before entering the United States—more than any arrival to the United States.  It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through the whole vetting process.  We can look at strengthening the already stringent screening program, but we should continue to welcome those in desperate need.

Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes.  Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive.  As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.

When the Syrians Came to North Dakota

NDSU Archives, Fargo, N.D. (st000092)

NDSU Archives, Fargo, N.D. (st000092)

North Dakota once welcomed Syrians seeking a better life. They were Catholic (Melkite and Maronite), Orthodox, and Muslim.  Below is a piece from Sophia, a publication of the Melkite Diocese of the U.S. about this period in our state’s history.A Journey Through Time

 

Action Alert: Protect the Rights of Pro-Life Health Care Providers!

physicianNow is the time to urge Congress to protect the right of conscientious objection to abortion. Please urge your elected representatives to support the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA). This proposal is part of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HR 940), and is now included in the House’s Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 (HR 3020, secs. 530 (d) and (e)). Ask members to include this language in final must-pass funding legislation this year. Please take action today through the link below.

The need for this legislation has grown more urgent since last year, when the state of California started forcing almost all health plans in the state to pay for elective abortions, even late-term abortions. There is no exemption for religious or moral objections. A mandate for hospitals, even religious hospitals, to perform abortions could be next.

California’s coercive policy clearly violates a federal law known as the Weldon amendment, which forbids governments receiving federal health care funds to discriminate against those who decline to take part in abortion. Unfortunately, this and other existing laws have loopholes and legal weaknesses that make them ineffective against such challenges. For example, nurses threatened with loss of their jobs unless they assist in abortions have found they have no right to go to court to see the law enforced. Congress should reaffirm a principle that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support: Government should not force hospitals, doctors, nurses and other providers to stop offering much-needed health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life.

Recommended Actions to take immediately:

  • Send e-mails through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here.
  • Contact your Representative and Senators by phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or call their local offices. Members’ mailing addresses may be found at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov
  • Follow us on Twitter @nchla and retweet our posts. Repost this alert to Facebook or other social media platforms.

 

Suggested Message: “Please help ensure that the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), now included in the House’s Labor/HHS appropriations bill (Secs. 530 (d) and (e) of HR 3020), is enacted as part of end-of-year must-pass legislation. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs about respect for life when they provide health services”.

Background:

For a letter, fact sheet, and video on this legislation, and other information on conscience rights, see www.usccb.org/consciencephysician.